Kenya: Naivasha Alive as Equator Rally Teams Start Arriving for Weekend Race

It's all systems go as preparations for this weekend's Equator Rally reach fever pitch with crews and technical officials arriving at the Africa Rally Championship competition's nerve centre in Naivasha.

Competing teams from South Africa, Uganda and Zambia were among early arrivals with a timing system crew from Bulgaria also landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Alexander Kovatchev, the head of the Bulgarian timing team, arrived on Monday with his crew in tow.

The team has frequently visited Kenya having covered the Classic Rallies and the Guru Nanak Rally.

"We have not slept for 24 hours and now in Kenya.

"I am happy to be here but will talk later as I am going to sleep for a while to take a short break," Kovatchev told Nation Sport.

The timing system is based on the latest technology that picks the time of each of the cars the moment it enters the "Flying Finish Zone."

There is an electronic chip that is fitted in the rear window of each and every car.

Six metres before the car hits the finish fine, the details of a particular car will have got to the controllers.

And by the time the car reaches the control point, the time taken in the Competitive Stage will have been recorded and put on the time cards.

Jas Mangat, the former Uganda National Champion is one of the drivers already in Naivasha and eagerly awaiting his first ever Equator Rally.

"Yes, we are here with my team and looking forward to tackling the Equator Rally.

"I will be driving my Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX. It will be fun as there are about nine crews from Uganda," said Mangat.

Ali Katumba, who will navigate Yasser Nasser in a Subaru Impreza, left Uganda yesterday and is expected in Naivasha today.

"I am driving right now towards Kenya and looking forward to doing the Equator Rally. I am sure it will be fun having heard so much about the preparations for the major rally," said Katumba.

Though Mangat is confirmed to enter the rally, his name is missing out of entry 33 crews gearing up for the opening round of the ARC series.

Ian Duncan will drive a Nissan 240RS while Carl Tundo will drive a VW Polo R5 entered by Minti Motorsports UK.

Duncan's navigator will be Tej Sehmi while Tim Jessop will partner Tundo. Duncan is one of Kenya's most successful rally drivers.

He has won the Kenya National Rally Championship six times (1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2000 and 2011). He won the Safari Rally in the 1994.

"I am very happy to have been given the car to drive in the Equator Rally.

"I have done a little bit of testing but rest will be done in the Equator Rally. I last drove a two-wheel drive car, a Rover in the last East African Safari Classic Rally. We hope to do well," said Duncan.

Duncan, has contested the Equator Rally four times, won once in 1991 and scored two podium finishes.

Five times winner of the Safari Rally, Tundo will drive a VW Polo R5.

The team manager at Minti Motorsports, Harpal Sudle, travelled from England recently to prepare for the ARC Rally in addition to the Safari Rally, a round of the 2021 World Rally Championship.

"We are happy to have Duncan and Tundo in our team and looking forward to a good performance.

"Unfortunately Joey Ghose cannot be here due to the Cocid-19 protocols.

Both Tundo and Duncan are well known former winners of the Safari Rally. Our back-up trucks are also here though we could not get the rest of the team members here," Sudle told Nation Sport.

Tundo, who was to enter his customary Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10, was picked by the Minti Motorsports of UK to drive the R5 rally car in the first round of the ARC event. He replaces Praful Ghose, who cannot travel out of his home nation because of the Covid-19 restrictions worldwide.

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